Killer T-Cells Killing Cancer Cells

October 11, 2012 — 3 Comments

The following video shows an immune cell attacking and destroying a cancer cell. To me, these videos of immune cells attacking cancer cells are fascinating. It is like watching a National Geographic wild animal film. The big difference being, I never feel sorry for the cancer cell.

This video is entitled: Cytotoxic T cells killing cervical cancer cells. “Cyto” means “cell.” “Toxic” means “poisonous.” Cytotoxic T cells are immune cells that are poisonous to cancer cells. They are also called killer T-cells.

The video shows killer T-cells (small cells) killing cervical carcinoma cells (larger cells).

Source: CD84U Video made by Tom Hickin as part of his CUROP project at Cardiff University.

Killer T-cells are very different from the natural killer cells that you saw in the previous post.

Using a military analogy: natural killer cells are the equivalent of the active-duty, career military. Killer T-cells represent a reserve force that is called into duty to fight a specific enemy.

Natural killer cells are part of the innate or nonspecific immune system.

Killer T-cells are part of the body’s specific immune system – also called acquired or adaptive immunity.

Natural killer cells will attack any cancer cell.

Killer T-cells will attack only a single specific antigen.

The key to winning the battle is time – reaction time. The speed of the immune system’s response is staggering. In the time it has taken you to read to this point, your immune system is able to produce about 10 million new lymphocytes (killer T-cells) and trillions of new antibody molecules.

It is the antibodies that swarm throughout your body and attach themselves to specific cancer antigens (non-self markers on the surface of cancer cells). These antibodies mark the cancer cell for attack by the killer T-cell. Antibodies also have the ability to attack the cancer cell in various ways – sometimes they are able to curtail the cancer cell’s ability to grow and even to kill the cancer cell.

Killer T-cells contain receptors on their cell surfaces that are capable of recognizing and binding to specific antigens. These immune cells circulate continually in the blood and lymph systems. They track down cancer cells that have metastasized (spread).

As cancer tumors mature, the cancer cells in the tumor develop the ability to mutate and change the shape of the identity markers that are on the surface of their cell. They change their identity to avoid detection. This change does not affect natural killer cells or macrophage immune cells because they attack all non-self markers. A new set of antibodies and killer T-cells will be produced by the immune system that will attack the new shape on the mutated cancer cells. The existing killer T-cells will continue to search for the previous antigen shape.

We have the ability to assist the immune system by our dietary choices.

There are foods that support the health of the immune system and enable it to operate at its maximum speed. Likewise there are foods that slow down a cancer cell’s ability to grow. Ideally, we want to slow cancer’s growth and speed up the immune response.

Sadly, too often we sabotage the immune system’s ability to attack cancer by our dietary choices.

Take for example, sugar!

All of us have experienced the effects of blood sugar highs – feeling sluggish, tired, and fatigued. This is how your immune system also responds – tired, slow, and fatigued. Unfortunately, cancer cells love sugar. It causes them to become active and alert.

In the battle for time, sugar is your number one enemy!

How do you control your sugar intake?

3 responses to Killer T-Cells Killing Cancer Cells


    What’s weird is that chemo pumps up the desire for sugar, we’ve discovered. Ron Singley had the same response to sugar. Before chemo, he had no sweet tooth. On chemo he wanted sugar a lot. Rog is beginning to have the same situation.


      Rachel, research has proven that cancer cells release chemical messengers that cause sugar (glucose) cravings. Cancer cells need much more glucose to support their growth than healthy cells. Cancer creates cravings as a demand to provide it the “sugar” it needs for growth. Perhaps, it’s not the direct response to the chemo that pumps up the desire for sugar. It may be a survival tactic of the tumor as it is being attacked by the chemo. Tell Roger not to give in to cancer’s demands. I’ll explain this in detail in future posts. Briefly: all cells need glucose, so you need complex carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits, but stay away (far away) from processed sugar (table sugar) and anything held together by sugar (cookies, cakes, etc.). High Fructose Corn Syrup is worse. Also, chemo affects the taste buds. Some people blame that for their cravings – but don’t let that become an excuse for eating table sugar.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Can Your Thoughts Cause or Cure Cancer? « Restore Immune Health – Attack Cancer - August 28, 2013

    […] Cortisol suppresses the rapid reproduction of killer T-cells. Killer T-cells are the immune cells that proliferate to build a vast army of immune cells that fight specific antigens – including cancer cells.To see a video of killer T-cells attacking a cancer cell click here. […]

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